Each year, over 600,000 people count on the Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) of Ontario as their single point of access for community services. CCACs help people find their way through Ontario’s healthcare system, understand their options and connect them to quality community-based health care and resources.
They arrange for quality health-care professionals – Nurses, Physiotherapists, Social Workers, Registered Dietitians, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Personal Support Workers – to provide a range of care and supportive services to assist people at home and allow them to enjoy the best possible quality of life.
At the heart of each CCAC is a highly skilled group of Case Managers (also called Care Coordinators) who play a pivotal role in helping people navigate the complexities of the health care system.
This role will become increasingly important and in-demand as our population continues to age, and our healthcare system continues to shift its priorities toward home- and community-based services.
So, how do you become a Case Manager or Care Coordinator?
Let’s use Tamara Samuels’ career path so far to show you what it takes – we recently filmed a video blog with her to learn more about Case Management, so we know a lot about her.
When we met Tamara, it was easy to see why she’s been so successful in her career so far; she was friendly, articulate and extremely passionate about her work!
A few years ago, like many of you now, Tamara was a nursing student at Humber College. “I went into nursing because I love the human body and I love people; I don’t regret anything – it was awesome!” she said.
In the last semester of her program, she completed a pre-graduate placement at a local hospital where she worked on the oncology and general medicine floor. She must have made a fantastic impression because they hired her right out of school.
“I stayed there for about five years and I was able to do everything on the floor. I did a lot of training and preceptering, so I thought that was really great.”
However, like a lot of people who stay in the same job for five years, Tamara started to feel a little too comfortable, so she kept her eyes and ears open for other opportunities. That’s when she applied to be a Case Manager at Central West Community Care Access Centre in Brampton, Ont.
The experience and skills Tamara developed while working in the hospital setting transferred well to the Case Manager role – she knew how to work with and provide care for different types of people going through a wide variety of healthcare situations.
What if you don’t have a nursing background?
The role of a Case Manager is not a clinical role, so they can come from a number of different professional backgrounds, including:
- Nurse (BScN or diploma)
- Occupational Therapist
- Speech Language Pathologist
- Social Worker (MSW/BSW)
The CCACs are looking for Case Managers who are licensed and have at least one to two years of community health or related clinical experience.
“Years of experience” might sound way too far in the future when you’re still trying to get through school, but it’s important to plan your career beyond your first job. You likely won’t stay in that first role for more than a few years.
And for those of you who are struggling with the idea of being stuck with one job for the rest of your life: don’t worry so much! There are many divergent paths along the way. When you’re a student or recent graduate is the best time to learn about and start planning for more advanced jobs you might take on later in your career – such as becoming a Case Manager at a Community Care Access Centre.
One of the best ways to figure out if you might like to work as a Case Manager/Care Coordinator is by pursuing summer student positions or student placements at CCACs and their service providers.
Community Care Access Centres connect people with the care they need, at home and in their communities. CCACs help people find their way through Ontario’s health care system, understand their options and connect them to quality community based health care and resources.
In total, there are 14 CCACs in communities across Ontario that are funded by Local Health Integration Networks through the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This means that CCAC advice and services are covered by OHIP.